Police chief says investigation into fatal Messer Street accident nearly complete

LACONIA — Police Chief Chris Adams said yesterday that the investigation of the traffic accident that took the life of Lily Johnson and severely injured Alyssa Miner is near completion. "We have sorted through the bulk of the evidence and are waiting for a couple pieces of information," he said. "We are very close."
Adams explained that two reports will be issued. The first report, prepared by the Belknap County Accident Reconstruction Team, which includes Sergeant Al Graton of the Laconia police, is scientific and technical in nature and describes the incident in detail — the condition, position, speed and course of the vehicles as well as road, weather and other physical conditions bearing on the accident. The second report, compiled by patrolmen and detectives of the Laconia Police Department, draws on information gathered from witness's statements, search warrants and laboratory tests. Adams said that the decision whether or not to bring criminal charges arising from the incident will depend on the evidence presented and conclusions drawn by the two reports.
"We have taken our time in this case to make sure everything is done right," said Adams. Stressing the significance and sensitivity of the incident to the community, he added that "we've kept both families abreast of the investigation."
Meanwhile,  solar-powered traffic signals have been installed and are operating on Messer Street on either side of the crosswalk at Opechee Street near the foot of the bridge where the accident occurred on Friday, April 19. 
Johnson and Miner, both 14 and eighth grade students at Laconia Middle School, were struck by a Jeep Cherokee, driven by Amy Lafond, 52, of 10 River Street, Laconia, while on the sidewalk on the Messer Street Bridge, near the intersection of Opechee Street and Messer Street at approximately 2:30 p.m. on April 19. According to police, Lafond was traveling northbound on Messer Street toward its intersection with Opechee Street at the foot of the Messer Street Bridge, where a pedestrian crosswalk crosses Messer Street. A car going in the same direction had stopped at the crosswalk, apparently to enable a number of middle school students standing at the corner to cross the street. About the same time, the two girls had walked down Opechee Street to the intersection, turned the corner on to the sidewalk and were walking along the sidewalk on the west side of the Messer Street Bridge. For reasons that remain to be determined, Lafond skirted the stopped car, crossed into the southbound lane of Messer Street and mounted the raised sidewalk via a ramp, then hit the two girls from behind.
Canfield said that one of the girls was thrown on to the hood and into the windshield of the Cherokee as it caromed off the guardrail and then came to rest on the opposite side of the bridge.